Students advance ideas thanks to special funding
An innovative Arizona State University program is attracting a growing number of progressive ideas from teams of students hoping to join the ranks of entrepreneurial success – and 18 of these teams recently secured special funding to pursue their dreams.
Started in 2007, the Entrepreneur Advantage Project (EAP) has helped students explore their entrepreneurial ideas with guidance and support from experienced entrepreneurs, as well as funding to get their projects started. The EAP attracted 108 applications this fall, compared to 62 last fall and 30 in the fall of 2007. A panel of business experts met to decide who would receive funding and 18 projects representing all areas of the university came away with financial awards averaging almost $2,000.
“Entrepreneurship and innovation is thriving at ASU,” said Julia Rosen, the university’s vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship. The program is administered by Rosen’s staff located at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center. “We were very pleased to see the number and quality of the ideas coming from ASU students from every corner of campus. The projects receiving funding represent a wide variety of interesting ideas.”
The awardees included projects in the fine arts, education and non-profit studies, reported Rosen, as well as several projects in engineering and business. To see a list of the projects, click here.
“My team and I all plan to use this entrepreneurship venture to gain real-world knowledge of an engineering project,” said engineering student Jared Schoepf, leader of the Rio Salado Habitat project. His team is addressing environmental issues in the Rio Salado Habitat by designing a special grate system for one of 11 storm pipes in the area. According to Schoepf, this grate will provide an inexpensive and accessible method for removing trash before it enters the habitat.
“We hope to learn how to work as a team to research, design and build an actual product that could then be used to help protect the environment,” Schoepf said. “These skills will help us in the future when we work on other engineering projects.”
Business management student Max Altschuler is leading the development of a concept called Rack N Ride, a shared bicycle service for ASU and the surrounding Tempe community. Their idea of establishing a network of bicycles and racks available for use for a low annual fee could provide all of the benefits of bike ownership without the drawbacks of maintenance, storage or security, according to Altschuler.
“We are working on a wireless system so we can monitor the bikes from a central computer,” Altschuler said. “The funding really helps because we can get started on the design process of this system. It also helped us pay for our LLC so that we can apply for other grants and funding. All of this gets us one step closer to our main goal.”
Applications for the program include a project concept, marketing strategy, budget and the project’s “economic/social/cultural impact.” Grants for the projects can range from $500 up to $5,000, with the average around $2,000 per team selected. Funding is provided by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and can be used for building prototypes, market research studies, materials and supplies, but not for salaries, travel, meals or entertainment. Applications are accepted in both the fall and spring semesters.
“This program is consistent with the broad-based philosophy of growing entrepreneurship at ASU, encouraging ideas from all disciplines, from undergraduate students as well as graduate students,” Rosen said. “Even if they’ve never taken a business class or thought about being an entrepreneur, if a student has a good idea we can provide some funding and support to help them pursue it.”
Also included among the projects funded are TumbleFringe, led by fine arts graduate student Sarah Sullivan, and bioengineering student Tim Darling’s BME Sundevil Dezign. TumbleFringe will stage an original theater production with the Tumbleweed Center For Youth Development, a program for at-risk youth ages 11 to 22, while BME Sundevil Dezign is developing a micromagnetic contact lense to track the movement of the eye. Both projects will provide real world experience for their teams, while TumbleFringe will also provide valuable experience for another group.
“The participants from the Tumbleweed Center will have the opportunity to participate in every aspect of a theatrical production,” Sullivan said. “The show will provide an opportunity for these kids to take charge of their own work and develop both interpersonal and specific job training.”
“Designing products on paper can only take us so far,” Darling said. “This program has allowed us to move from the drawing board into a prototype phase of design. A viable prototype is our first step in pursuing our dreams of starting a business.”
The deadline for spring 2010 applications is March 26, as the EAP becomes a part of the Challenges Innovator Competition. For more information on this and other student entrepreneurship programs, click here.">http://entrepreneurship.asu.edu">here.